The term gnosticism derives from Latin gnosticus, which comes from Greek gnostikos (knowledge) and refers to gnosis which is a mystical and godlike knowledge of the heart and the soul. It is a journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge, which by experiencing the Truth within oneself awakes one's consciousness, hence bringing it into the state of pleroma (fullness or the totality of divine powers).
"Matthew said, "Lord, I wish to see that Place of Life, that place in which there is no evil but rather where there is only pure light."
The Lord said, "Brother Matthew, you cannot see it, as long as you wear the flesh."
Matthew said, "O Lord, even if I cannot see it, let me know it."
The Lord said, "Every one of you who has known himself has seen it"
"The Dialogue of the Savior"- Codex III of the Nag Hammadi codices
Uncovering this knowledge and the spiritual transformation that results from it is the goal of the gnostic seeker. Finding this individual inner peace enables one to help others achieve the same.
Gnostic Teachings & Beliefs
- 1. Self-knowledge leads to the state of pleroma, which is the center of divine life. In that world there are spiritual beings, like aeons (eternal beings), who are sent to help people recover lost knowledge about their divine origin. Jesus is such an aeon;
- 2. Tolerance of different religious beliefs within and outside of Gnosticism;
- 3. There is no dogma but personal mystical experiential knowledge of God;
- 4. Process of inner transformation liberates humans from compulsive imprisonment of dualities which are harmonized in pleroma.
The qualities of Pleroma are pairs of opposites:
- The Effective and the Ineffective
- Force and Matter
- Fullness and Emptiness
- Good and Evil
- Light and Darkness
- The Hot and the Cold
- These opposites are balanced and void in pleroma. But, although being in us, they are not balanced. Being distinguished from them delivered us. Neutralizing them brings us again in one with Light.
C.G.Jung "Seven Sermons to the Dead", (1916)
- 5. Both genders are treated equally;
- 6. Matter and the human body are of earthly importance;
- 7. The goal is to reveal the spirit, which is divine by origin. It was hidden when brought by Sophia in the form of a seed to be understood and discovered;
- 8. Spiritual experience is individual and cannot be destroyed;
- 9. When the experience of gnosis is upon the person, one can do no other but love oneself, another, life, and God, as this is the state of no separation.
Spiritual and mystical practices include working with life questions through meditation, silence, concentration, self-observation, out-of-body-experiences, dreams and other spiritual techniques that aid in achieving a transcendental knowledge about destiny and death while still being embodied on Earth.
Jesus' words to Thomas:
"Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you are called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself."
"For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the all."
The Book of Thomas the Contender